PP Book Review: Whosoever Will: A Biblical-Theological Response to Five-Point Calvinism
It is an attempt to do two things in my opinion, first to strengthen the arguments that people can make against Calvinism and second to try to stem the tide of Calvinist converts within Southern Baptist churches and seminaries.
Whether it succeeds in either one of those pursuits only time will tell.
I will say this up front though…this is light years ahead of the George Bryson/ Dave Hunt scabulon that has come before it.
The tone is usually respectful, the arguments usually intelligent, and both are a refreshing change from the norm.
The book begins with a sermon on John 3:16 from Jerry Vines that undoubtedly preaches better than it reads and adds little to the discussion.
Paige Patterson follows with an article about “total depravity” that will resonate with some semi-Pelagians, but was pretty weak from a man of his stature.
Richard Land follows with something called “congruent election” that seems to be incoherent Molinism to me, but your mileage may vary.
David Allen then has an article on the atonement which is is worthwhile because he actually has read and understands the Reformed perspectives on the issue and interacts with some of the scholars he’s read. The conclusions that he draws range from thoughtful to silly, but it is worth reading.
Following Allen is Steve Lemke refuting irresistible grace and Kenneth Keathley on perseverance and assurance.
Keathleys article is thought provoking and one of the better parts of the book.
Next, Kevin Kennedy asks the question ‘Was Calvin A Calvinist”?
This was my favorite part of the book as Kennedy has obviously read Calvin, understands Calvin, and respects Calvin.
The issue is whether or not Calvin held to a strict doctrine of ‘limited atonement” as his followers through the centuries have.
Kennedy rightly points out that Calvin appears to have held to a form of universal atonement as well as divine election.
It is a very well written and researched chapter that will only be of interest or value…to Calvinists.
The rest of the book deals with the (negative) effect of Calvinism on ecclesiology and altar calls and ends with a discussion of the problem of evil.
The book breaks no new ground, but does restate the common objections to Calvinism in a more mature and thoughtful manner than usually accompanies these books.
It’s the best of the anti- Calvinist books I’ve seen over the last few years and will leave the reader with much more understanding of the issues than all the Bryson/Hunt screeds put together.
I’m done with my copy if anyone wants it… 🙂